Eugene Mele

University of Pennsylvania

2019 Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics

For new ideas about topology and symmetry in physics, leading to the prediction of a new class of materials that conduct electricity only on their surface.


I am grateful to the Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics for celebrating the field of topological electronic materials with this award. This subject has seen extraordinary growth over the past decade and it is important to emphasize that its development is the cumulative result of many inspiring contributions from many colleagues in many institutions. I extend a well-deserved congratulations to all of our colleagues. I am particularly fortunate to have worked with my colleague Charlie Kane, who has brought to our own collaboration a unique combination of vision and patience, in just the right measure. I am additionally proud that our work was actually done at the University of Pennsylvania, the very institution that our founder Benjamin Franklin established for the pursuit of “those things that are likely to be most useful and most ornamental.” Those prescient goals, set forth over two centuries ago, somehow perfectly capture the modern spirit of condensed matter science in general and of research on topological phases of matter in particular. Finally, I thank my wife and family for their encouragement and patience.

Eugene Mele

Ceremony Acceptance Video

Breakthrough Prize Symposium Talks

Breakthrough Prize Interviews